CAPE TOWN – Saracens loose forward Jacques Burger will captain Namibia in the rugby World Cup in England after coach Phil Davies named a 31-man squad on Thursday.
Burger is among four players who will be appearing in their third World Cup, along with prop Johnny Redelinghuys, loose forward Tinus du Plessis and scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies, while a further 10 have experience at the event.
Namibia have lost all 15 of their previous World Cup matches, conceding almost 1000 points in the process, and go into the Sept. 18- Oct. 31 competition with the daunting prospect of having to face champions New Zealand in a pool that also includes Argentina, Tonga and Georgia.
“I think it is the strongest group of players we could have picked to select Namibia at the Rugby World Cup,” Davies said in a news release from the Namibia Rugby Union on Thursday.
“There’s some good versatility and a big number of players are in good form as we showed recently when we won four test matches in a row and moved up to number 20 in the world rankings.”
Davies admitted he was given some selection headaches and said will use the tournament to blood younger players at rugby’s greatest stage.
“It was tough, we have good depth in the midfield and lots of talent in the back three, and in our back row,” Davies said.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
“We do have some world class players in Jacques Burger and (flank) Renaldo Bothma, but in some areas where we lack a bit of depth. We are looking at developing some young players for the future in those positions.”
Davies admits the challenge for his side at the World Cup will be both physical and mental, but adds they go into the tournament in high spirits.
“I feel the players that have put their hand up have been rewarded with selection. There’s a lot of courage and character, and we will be doing everything to get that first ever win at a World Cup,” the Welshman said.
“I am pleased with the dynamics of the players who are based in Namibia and those who play professionally. We couldn’t ask for a group that is more together, a more committed group.”
Forwards – Renaldo Bothma, Jacques Burger, John Coetzee, Wian Conradie Leneve Damens, AJ de Klerk, Tinus du Plessis, Jaco Engels, Rohan Kitshoff, Raoul Larson, Johnnie Redelinghuys Tjiuee Uanivi, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, PJ van Lill Janco Venter Casper Viviers.
Backs – Chrysander Botha Eneill Buitendag, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Eugene Jantjies, Theuns Kotze, Conrad Marais, David Philander, Heinrich Smith, Damien Stevens Johan Tromp, Danie van Wyk, Russell van Wyk.
(Reporting by Nick Said; editing by Amlan Chakraborty) (Reuters)